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Liam Byrne, concept development manager, the Brewery

03 March 2005
Liam Byrne, concept development manager, the Brewery

Selling the intangible is how Liam Byrne describes his role at conference and banqueting venue the Brewery. As concept development manager, he works closely with the sales team to create and design a memorable event for clients, helping to clinch the big deals.

Originally, the site was Whitbread's actual brewery; today, the London site has nine event rooms with the biggest, the Porter Tun, capable of seating 650 for dinner.

The fact that the Brewery's rooms are essentially plain until dressed is both a great freedom and a challenge for Byrne, who acts as the main point of contact for clients and their event, be it a product launch, a press conference or a wedding.

Byrne's role is a reactive one and he spends significant amounts of time meeting face-to-face with clients to help articulate his ideas to them. His services are free as part of the Brewery's offering, and he will arrange everything from equipment hire and the look of the event to catering and transport, if necessary. There's a fair bit of wheeling and dealing to his role, and Byrne concedes that his enthusiasm often makes for a lot of hard decisions when it comes to costing the event and assuring it hits budget.

Byrne started his career in hospitality in 1997 at the Painswick hotel in the Cotswolds as restaurant manager, having previously worked there part-time. A series of operational roles followed, including operations manager, until he joined the Brewery as sales and event team manager in 2002. He took on his current role at the 250-year-old site in September last year.

His experiences from early in his career have shaped his views on managing a team, at least in part because he remembers his days working part-time in the small hotel where he started to earn a wage.

"Everyone with a real passion for the industry seems to have started in it very young," he says. "So I think you should never ignore the kid working at weekends. Just because they're working part-time doesn't mean they aren't interested in learning more. They could be the leaders of tomorrow."

Sticking to that principle, Byrne says that the last thing he wants is a load of robots working for him.

"People with a positive attitude enhance yours and the customers' experience," he says. "So I'd always look for personality over skill, as training can cure any technical failings."

Career highlights

1997
Restaurant manager, Painswick hotel

2000
Corporate events manager, Digby Trout Restaurants

2001
Operations manager, Painswick hotel

2004
Concept development manager, the Brewery

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